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Reply #50: hey, we got doozies too [View All]

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iverglas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-23-07 04:19 PM
Response to Reply #48
50. hey, we got doozies too
The smarmy jerk with the spiffy Manuel Ortega sunglasses sunning himself in the customs booth at I forget which crossing ... I always took *my* sunglasses off when I pulled up to customs, but this time I couldn't roll my window all the way down, because the old Toyota van had just about given up the ghost and it might not go up one more time. He demanded that I do (I would have been happy to pull over and get out, so I should've just said no) ... and that was the last time that window went up, i.e. it didn't.

Then there was the time I decided to drive on the US side of the St. Lawrence for a while just for the hell of it. Crossed over, had lunch, crossed back in time to meet my little bro for a movie. I thought. One booth open, line of trucks a mile long. An hour later, it's my turn. Replied to questions by saying I'd crossed over three hours before, I'd been in the line for an hour of that time, and I'd had lunch. Old Suzuki; no trunk; what you see is what you get. What there was to see was a briefcase and a jacket. When I persisted in answering all questions -- buy anything? bringing anything back? -- with "no, I had lunch", I got the wrong coloured ticket and got sent over to wait some more. The guy there walked the ten paces around the car, looked in the windows, asked me the same questions, I said "no, I had lunch", he looked puzzled and sent me away.

It's like every other authority in life, though: if you ain't doing nothing wrong, they can't do nothing to you. When you're coming into your own country, anyhow. So I got tired of being asked every time I hit customs what the purpose of my trip had been, and I decided next time I would say "none of your business" because that's exactly what it is. I have a constitutional right to leave and re-enter Canada, and the purpose of my trip could have been the most horrible thing you can imagine, and I can still come back in. Yup, they can hassle me, but I don't care. Actually, I'd settled on the Miss Manners response: "and why do you ask?" I mentioned it to an immigration border officer buddy of mine (I was in the biz), and he said d'you know, they've just put out a policy that they're not to ask that anymore. So coming back from Chicago the next new year's eve ... I sit on the bridge for half an hour ... and the woman asks me what the purpose of my trip was. Why do you ask? I ask sweetly. Well, I might have got christmas presents. If you want to know whether I got christmas presents, ask me. She did. Yup, that kitchy plastic mirror and candleholder set in the back seat that my friend got at a garage sale. Off I went.

Always had the opposite trouble when actually trying to declare. Coming back from Cuba a few times -- I'd load up on records (yes, that was the old days). Nobody else declared anything but a bottle of rum and a carton of cigarettes. There was me, declaring my limit. They couldn't figure out how I'd managed to buy things. And a shopping trip to Maine ... my pal had hit the outlet stores, and I'd found out while we were there that I'd landed a contract so I'd gone artsy crafsty crazy. Poor guy at customs spent a while getting us the best rates on it all, and looking like he really wished we'd just said "no". But I was an immigration lawyer, and she worked for the Revenue department ...

The last time was 3 years ago. Had to go to Florida to get all my dad's stuff from his trailer after he had become ill and flown home, and died shortly after. A minivan full of ... junk. The customs officer kept wanting something he could write on the form, there being no duty payable anyhow, and all I could think of was "junk". Tools and nails and papers and clothing and dishes and bedding ... just like anybody having to cross a border with my junk if I'd died on the wrong side would be saying. We settled on "books".

Going the other way ... there was the time I pulled up to US customs and realized as I sat in line I had left every shred of ID, credit cards, birth cert, driver's licence ... ownership and insurance ... in a jacket pocket hanging on my office chair. Figured I'd front it out. The random question that day was "what kind of work do you do?" I'm an immigration lawyer. He said something I didn't understand, went HAHAHAHAHHA, so I went HAHAHAHAHA, and he waved me through. I think he must have been asking whether I was drumming up business and got his laugh for the day. ;)

Anyhow, really, a lot of the experience is determined by who you run into. Arrogant self-important pretty boys in a summer job where they get to hassle people, or regular folks doing a job. Not that those last ones are likely the ones getting the jobs these days.

Oh, hey. You'll like this one. (short video will start)

"Alaska/Canada Boundary 1898 ... Superintendent Sam Steele of the North West Mounted Police was no stranger to action. ..."

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